List of The Best Kenyan Writers – Part 1


wangari maathai

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Muta Maathai was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She studied in the USA at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, in addition to the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the Seventies, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental NGO centered on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and womens’s rights. In 1986, she was presented with the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004, she became the first African female to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”. Maathai turned into an elected member of Parliament and served as assistant minister for environment.

Works: Unbowed: A Memoir, The Green Belt Movement: sharing the approach and the experience, The bottom is heavy too: even with the Green Belt Movement : the Fifth Edinburgh Medal Address, State of the world’s minorities 2008: events of 2007, Bottle-necks of development in Africa, etc

Ngugi Wa Thiongo
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a Kenyan author, previously operating in English and now working in Gikuyu. His work includes novels, performs, brief stories, and essays, starting from literary and social criticism to kid’s literature. He’s the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal Mũtĩiri. In 1977, Ngũgĩ embarked upon a novel form of theatre in his native Kenya that sought to save the theatrical procedure from what he held to be “the overall bourgeois education system”, by using encouraging spontaneity and audience participation within the performances.


Works: Petals of Blood, Matigari, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat, Weep Not, etc

Richard Leakey
Richard Leakey

Richard Erskine Frere Leakey is a Kenyan politician, paleoanthropologist and conservationist. he’s second of the 3 sons of the archaeologists Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, and is the younger 1/2-brother of Colin Leakey.

Works: Human Origins, An African Winter, La sixième extinction, Origins Reconsidered, Nuestros Origenes,

margaret ogola
Margaret Ogola

Margaret Atieno Ogola was the Kenyan writer of the unconventional The River and the source, and its sequel, I Swear by Apollo. The River and the Source follows 4 generations of Kenyan women in a swiftly changing country and society. The book has been at the KCSE syllabus for many years, and it won the 1995 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Best First book, Africa Region, Dr Ogola worked on her very last book titled “Mandate of the people” a book she completed before her loss of life and is about to be launched posthumously. Ogola was also the recipient of the Familias Award for Humanitarian Service of the World Congress of families

Works: Cardinal Otunga, River and the Source, The, I Swear by Apollo

koigi wamwere
Koigi wa Wamwere

Koigi wa Wamwere is a Kenyan politician, human rights activist, journalist and writer. Koigi became well-known for opposing the Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi regimes, both of which sent him to detention.

Works: Negative ethnicity, I refuse to die

grace ogot
Grace Ogot

Grace Ogot was a Kenyan author, nurse, journalist, politician and diplomat. Together with Charity Waciuma she is the first Anglophone lady Kenyan writer to be published

Works: The other woman

binyavanga wainaina
Binyavanga Wainaina

Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina is a Kenyan author, journalist and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. In April 2014, Time magazine included Wainaina in its annual TIME 100 as one of the “Most Influential People in the World.

Works: Kwani? 02, Discovering Home, Beyond the River Yei, Kwani? 1 etc